"We notice things that don't work. We don't notice things that do. We notice computers, we don't notice pennies. We notice e-book readers, we don't notice books."This morning, the computer didn't want to work. Which was a bit of a bother because I'd quite a lot of work to finish off and not a whole lot of time in which to do it. I unplugged things and plugged them back in again. I tried to fiddle with settings. Over the course of an hour and a half I turned the thing off and on and off again.
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt, p. 110.
After some cathartic swearing I decided to have breakfast. Episode 3 of The War Machines might also calm me down. I turned on the telly. The sound came out okay but the picture remained frozen. I tried changing the channel. A pop-up box informed me that the channel wasn't available. It did the same whatever channel I chose.
"A-hah!" I thought, using my brain. "This will be a problem of the Virgin Media telly/broadband/telephone wossname. I shall give them a ring."
Only, of course the phone wasn't working.
At half eleven I got through on my mobile to a helpful chap called Gerald. He asked the usual questions - had I turned the thing off and on again, had I unplugged a few bits. I readied myself for the inevitable minutiae of tests and efforts, ratcheting up the cost of the call. But instead he said, "Sounds like I better send one of our technicians round."
"Hooray," I thought - though you can't tell from reading this off the screen that I did so with heavy sarcasm. What was the betting that it'd take a week or six, or that the one day the technician could turn up is when I'm in Spain. (I'm going to Spain at the end of next week, by the way.)
But no. The bloke was round within 20 minutes. And he'd already stopped off on the way at the thingie in the street where all our wires meet up. He lugged round the back of the telly to check it was rebooting properly, then had some fun with the computer.
Yes, there'd been a problem, he explained as he mucked about with wires. Not as bad as the citizens of BR6 who were all without broadband. Or a housing estate he'd been at that morning whose cables had all been cut. But a problem of the set up not coping with all the electric goodness I send back and forth. I wasn't plugged into the right bit, so he moved me up a notch. Or something.
The computer should have been fine from then on, but the ZyXel wireless gadget didn't want to play ball. We had a fun time unplugging different things in turn, then restarting the computer. And by about 1 pm it just decided to work.
"Blimey," I thought. "How efficient and friendly." I rang up expecting the usual Turing test where someone tries their best just to get rid of you. When really what I wanted was a Man to turn up and make everything okay. And Virgin Media did exactly that.
"Hooray," I thought. "Now I can get down to some graft." And the doorbell rang. Codename Moose wanted to borrow some books...
Anyway. The Virgin man made me so happy I knocked through my chores quite easily. I now have a bit more than an 80,000-word draft of something that's not yet been announced. A bit of tinkering over the weekend and then I can be delivered.
Bit apprehensive of turning the machine off and running out to play in the night. What if the system falls over again? Will the Man pop round as quick on a Saturday? And since this sort of service is - in my experience - little short of miraculous, should I ask him to bring a DVD of the Massacre with him?